True Boots: Your Photos for the Win

True Boots is about experiences on the ground.  It’s about walking in the footsteps of those who’ve come before.  It’s about keeping pace with what’s happening now.  It’s about blazing a trail toward what lies ahead. I try to give you my best experiences here, and my thoughts on current topics based on those first-hand experiences. But I’m always interested to hear your experiences, too.

A few months back, I invited my readers (and friends and family) to submit your own True Boots photos on my True Boots page on Facebook. My profound thanks for all of you who submitted photos and voted for your favorites. At long last, I’m posting the top photos submitted and “liked” by voters:

Cheyenne

Cheyenne

Cheyenne. My sister, who you can view and follow at Cheyenne L. Rouse Photography, is the trailblazer in my family. She makes her living photographing the incredible landscapes and iconography of our American southwest, and has participated in all kinds of adventures, including a trip to the summit of Mount Rainier. Here’s what she said about her boots:

While my True Boots aren’t of the military kind, as a Professional Photographer in the Desert Southwest they help me get my job done. My boots take me to magical places in the Southwest and that allows me get the photos that I dream about, that keep me inspired and that I can then share with the world!


 

Irene.

Irene

Irene. My friend and colleague Irene is a badass former Marine, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy grad, former Army National Guard officer, and currently works across the globe as a Second Officer on commercial ships. Here’s what she said about her boots:

This was taken by my cadet sea partner, Will Donnelly, while we were on the SS Cape Jacob in 2006-2007. The location was Kure, Hiroshima, Japan. The ship’s sole purpose was to haul bombs for the military. While in port, we (obviously) could not talk about the cargo. I remember the emphasis on firefighting, as the lifeboats could not make it out of the blast radius.

This picture is special because it reminds me of how much fun Will and I had during sea year. As we were both prior enlisted Marines from south Mississippi, we could count on each other. Will was killed in action in Sangin, Afghanistan, on 25 November 2010, while platoon commander 2nd Plt, Kilo Co, 3/5 (Darkhorse).


Bob

Bob

Bob. My friend Bob, a frequent commenter on this blog, and an inspiration on the page and in real life, is another badass former Marine, and a veteran of the war in Vietnam. A native of Brooklyn, he had a long career in financial service companies and non-profit organizations, and currently works to bring attention to the abandonment of the Vietnam generation of veterans both upon their return and by numerous current veteran organizations, and he also brings attention to the severe health outcomes brought about by Agent Orange poisoning in Vietnam. Here’s what he said about his boots:

Two things need to be stated from the git go :

1. My boots can barely be seen so I asked True Boots for a ruling on the admissibility –the answer was “ go ahead and submit and let the respondents decide.” I will also point out that these are not Jungle Boots which were not yet fully issued to troops already in the field.

2. The date on the picture,” November 1966,” is misleading. Not having Facebook, Instagram, or E-Mail at that time, development had to wait until I was back in the world – several days before Thanksgiving of that year. The picture was most likely taken with a Kodak Brownie and was on the only roll of film to have survived.

The contest rules call for a story behind the picture and therein lies the problem. Forty-eight years ago on an exact date which is not known I cannot tell you a story. It is kind of like the saying “ if you remember the sixties too well you probably weren’t there.” We will borrow from Jacques Derrida’s deconstructionist theory: What can we discern from the picture itself and what’s implied by the image that will conjure a “memory.”

At the time I was on my first tour of duty in Vietnam. I landed “in country” with H and S Company First Battalion Fifth Regiment (known as BLT 1/5 ) in February but by the time of this picture I had been transferred to H and S Company Second Battalion Seventh Regiment. I was a mortarman (81mm) with an 0341 MOS. I was a Lance Corporal ( E-3). I am holding a .45 pistol which is the TO weapon of only two members of a 81mm team: Squad Leader and Field Radio Operator. I was temporarily (after two were KIA) the FRO (2531 MOS) which was the reason why I was transferred in. The radio I carried was an ANPRC25, affectionately known as a “prick 25.” The generic 81mm call sign was “whiskey”–which some of you might recall is part of my current email address. For the record, I was no damn fool – besides the .45 I also carried an M-14 (with a bayonet for attachment), several fragmentation grenades and a k-bar.

It is clear from the red and white stakes (which are used for sighting in a fire mission) that we are in a forward squad size support position. The structure can be one of several things but it is most likely… well I do not know what it was “most likely” – too big and for an outhouse.

My attire is typical for a static field position, though I would often wear a flak jacket. It appears that I am heading towards the mortar pit from the sleeping tent but for no special reason — it is obviously a posed picture since I would never carry the .45 around like that – it would normally belong in a shoulder holster.

I was 19 years old.


Chris

Chris

Chris. An Iraq veteran and Army Reserve officer, Chris has served over the last several years in corporate positions helping veterans translate their military service into civilian careers, and recruiting the best military talent for the corporations he’s worked for. Here’s what Chris had to say about his boots, which incidentally aren’t an ideal pairing:

 Iraq, 2008. The day immediately after I accepted the CPT—>MAJ lobotomy. Spotted by the junior E5 in the section. In my defense, it was dark out.


 

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos and stories. More to come in 2015 with True Boots!

A few of my true boots, starting in lower left corner and going clockwise: on the ground after Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban Airport in the Philippines in 2013; hiking near Route 66 in Arizona in 2013; rigging sling loads at Fort Lee, Virginia, in 2008; medical logistics training at Camp Parks, California, in 2003; urban operations training in the snow at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, in 2009; admiring the scenery at Mt. Rainier, Washington, in 2002; ice climbing near Leadville, Colorado, in 2013; kneeling to take pictures at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 2011. Center photo is my third deployment in Afghanistan in 2012.

A few of my true boots, starting in lower left corner and going clockwise: on the ground after Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban Airport in the Philippines in 2013; hiking near Route 66 in Arizona in 2013; rigging sling loads at Fort Lee, Virginia, in 2008; medical logistics training at Camp Parks, California, in 2003; urban operations training in the snow at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, in 2009; admiring the scenery at Mt. Rainier, Washington, in 2002; ice climbing near Leadville, Colorado, in 2013; kneeling to take pictures at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 2011. Center photo is my third deployment in Afghanistan in 2012.

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